This week in the UK we are celebrating #VolunteersWeek. It’s a time to recognise and thank people for the fantastic contributions they make through volunteering throughout the year, most of which goes under the radar.
Although the coronavirus pandemic has affected many of the things volunteers would usually do, it hasn’t stopped our fantastic School of Management community from volunteering. Many of us have found ways to support others during the lockdown, like helping elderly and high-risk neighbours with shopping, lending cars to NHS workers and making food for the homeless.
Why is volunteering important?
The benefits of volunteering are vast, not only for the community or individual receiving the support but for volunteers as well. It helps to improve our own mental wellbeing, reduce stress and connect us with others, making us feel good. It can even be beneficial to our own development by learning new skills.
Within our community we have some fantastic dedicated volunteers who have been lending their skills and expertise to various projects for a long time now already, and we want to take this opportunity to shine the light on the amazing work they are doing and how they have adapted, and in some cases increased, their support during the pandemic.
Sarah has been an environmental champion with her local borough for over a year and is a member of the volunteer group for her local woodlands. She supports by picking up litter in the local area and lobbying local counsellors to follow up on environmental finds such as fly-tipping, woodland damage and rough sleepers in need of help. Sarah does it to “make sure the local foxes have a clean and tidy woodland to live in, so I have a less hazardous place to run and my dog has a safe place to play.”
Susana Frazao Pinherio
“Volunteering and pro bono work have been a great part of my life for as long as I can remember.”
Susana is involved in many great initiatives, supporting pro bono by lending her knowledge and skills. She is currently a Trustee at Apopo, an organisation working to detect and eradicate landmines and tuberculosis, making the land safe to return back to local communities.
Susana has also been volunteering at Alzheimer Research UK since 2015, revising and developing informative health materials and publications.
She has been a mentor for Oxford Women in Business and for the Global Thinkers Forum for over 5 years now, supporting young women from diverse cultures to realise their ambitions through women’s empowerment and youth development.
Susan volunteers for two charities; The Bookmark Reading Charity and Bliss the Baby Charity.
At the Bookmark Reading Charity, Susan works with in schools with children on their reading skills to help them build their confidence with reading.
“With Bliss the Baby I volunteer at the hospital but at the moment I’m helping out by collecting donations from local businesses and fundraising for the Bliss COVID-19 emergency appeal to support NHS staff and parents. My son is one of their ‘stay at home superheroes’ helping me to raise money by doing challenges. He was a tiny baby when he was born (3lbs!) and spent time in a special care unit so this is a charity that is very close to my heart!”
Mara joined a great initiative and has been loaning her car via Karshare to an NHS key worker for a month so they could get to the hospital safely.
Graham has been buying food for vulnerable neighbours to help them shield. And instead of accepted any reimbursement for this food, he’s suggested that they consider donating to the UCL Covid-19 Response fund. His neighbours have been keen to contribute and they are delighted they have contributed to UCL. In a small way they feel they are supporting UCL to in the effort to end the pandemic.
“I volunteer with the Royal Air Force Air Cadetswe do a weekly quiz, run virtual activities with other squadrons and we’re promoting more STEM activities to keep cadets engaged. We also share videos/photos to keep a log of everything we’re doing during lockdown. I’ve gotten to know a lot more about what our cadets’ hobbies are and it’s been humbling to see them make the most out this trying time.”
Ana has signed up to the GoodSAM app as an ‘NHS check in and chat volunteer’, and has also signed up to the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing Call Campaign, calling to check in with students during lockdown and signpost them to the variety of different support services UCL has to offer.
Many other colleagues have been volunteering their time and services to elderly and disabled neighbours who are high risk, and most of whom are unlikely to go out until there are no longer social distancing measures at all. They have supported with regular shopping trips, running errands, mowing their lawns and personal tasks.
Declan has become a local Alan Titchmarch and can often been seen with his handy lawnmower mowing elderly neighbours’ lawns, and the communal grass areas on his street.
Michelle has been supporting elderly and disabled neighbours, many of whom are high risk and unable to go out even with social distancing measures in place. She’s been lending her time to support with personal admin tasks, run errands and regular shopping trips.
Alana is currently volunteering in a local outreach program to assist elderly residents in her borough of London.
Dee has made volunteering a family activity and has been making and delivering sandwiches with her children to homeless people in her local area.
Susan and her entire family were nominated by a neighbour in their local bulletin as Everyday Heroes for their continued support before and during lockdown.
Want to get involved?
UCL offers many fantastic volunteering schemes you can get involved with. You can find more information on the UCL Student’s Union webpage.